In what is slated to usher in a new era of telecommunications in the world’s second-largest internet market, 5G is coming to iPhones, Google’s Pixel lineup, and Samsung’s flagship smartphones.
After the official reveal of 5G at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022 at the beginning of the month, Reliance Jio and Airtel have started to roll out 5G services in a handful of cities, and a pan-India coverage is on the cards over the coming months. However, despite the service operators rolling out the newest generation of mobile networks, a persisting issue is the lack of smartphones (ones not offered by Chinese smartphone vendors, that is) that support 5G in India.
To change this, a meeting was held today in order to “push” companies such as Apple, Google, and Samsung – manufacturers of the iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy lineups – to roll out software upgrades that will enable compatible smartphones to support 5G in the world’s second-largest internet market. And now, the companies have agreed to roll out the necessary software upgrades.
Several of the newest smartphones carry support for 5G but are yet to support local 5G airwaves in India. iPhones in the iPhone 12, 13, and 14 lineups are prime examples of this – being compatible with 5G but not supporting local 5G airwaves in India – and Apple acknowledged it on its website earlier. Now, the Cupertino-headquartered tech giant informed that it is working on the software upgrade that will let iPhone users in India enjoy the benefits of 5G – which include greater speeds lower latency, improved call quality, and the capacity for a larger number of connected devices.
However, this upgrade will not be rolled out immediately, and Apple confirmed that the software update will roll out to iPhone users in December, the exact date has not been confirmed.
“We are working with our carrier partners in India to bring the best 5G experience to iPhone users as soon as network validation and testing for quality and performance are completed. 5G will be enabled via a software update and will start rolling out to iPhone users in December,” Apple said in a statement.
At this moment, it is testing extensively the 5G-compatible iPhones on both Reliance Jio and Airtel’s 5G networks (which can be enjoyed by users in select cities, for now). Once Vi rolls out its own 5G offering, it is likely that Apple will test on its network as well.
Google has consented to roll out the software upgrade as well, which means that the Google Pixel 6a and the Pixel 7 series (which was unveiled recently and will hit the shelves tomorrow) will be supporting 5G in India as well. While it did not provide a specific timeline (unlike Apple), the company informed that it was working with the Indian carriers to allow 5G functionality on its Pixel devices in India.
Samsung, which commands a strong presence in the smartphone market in India, has not fallen behind. The South Korea-headquartered conglomerate confirmed that it will bring an OTA update to enable its handsets in India to support local 5G airwaves. The software upgrade is set to come in November, which is the fastest among the three (unless Google does it faster).
“Samsung has pioneered 5G technology development since 2009 and took the leading role in standardizing 5G technology globally. In India, Samsung has the widest portfolio of 5G devices. We are working closely with our operator partners and are committed to rolling out OTA updates across all our 5G devices by mid-November 2022, enabling Indian consumers to experience 5G seamlessly,” a spokesperson for Samsung India said in a statement.
For now, 9 Samsung handsets are compatible with Airtel 5G.